Part I: Pizzotz’s back story
Pizootz will be our kitten leash training guide but first you should know a bit about him. Pizootz, f.k.a Jury Duty Kitten, f.k.a. Jaydi, came into my life in a very unconventional manner.
Here is his story:
I (Yvonne Grassie, founder of Onpets) served jury duty on a blazingly hot day here in Miami, Florida and at the lunch break I decided to take a stroll around the court house. As I rounded the corner onto the main street I saw a homeless man sitting on the grass with a tiny kitten tied to his belt. As I approached I noticed that he also had a chicken – yes, a chicken – tethered to his belt. The chicken was happily pecking away at the ground but the kitten looked exhausted and weak.
Now, you need to know something about me: I spent 20 years on the Board of Directors – including 7 as President – of the Miami Coalition for the Homeless, now called Miami Homes for All. I also spent several years visiting homeless shelters in Miami to do intake interviews to try to help individuals find benefits and employment. So, I decided to sit down and speak with the animal-loving homeless gentleman and find out how he came to have a kitten and a chicken.
As it turned out, Ron was a lobster man for years in the Florida Key and when he fell upon hard times he ended up on the streets of Miami. Ron commented to me that when he died he really hoped that God wasn’t a lobster. I certainly appreciated Ron’s keen sense of humor. Ron was also sporting a black eye which he told me he’d gotten when he rescued the chicken from being sacrificed in a religious ritual. The kitten had been given to him the day before by another homeless man named “Wolf-man” who had scooped the kitten up of the street in the middle of traffic. No, I am not making any of this up! Ron devised his tether system to ensure the safety of both the chicken and the kitten.
Ron allowed me to hold the kitten and I ascertained that he was extremely young, had an eye infection, was hungry and quite dehydrated. Note that for the most part homeless individuals take VERY good care of their animal companions and many will refuse to enter a shelter because most homeless shelters do not accept companion animals. I told Ron the kitten needed medical attention and Ron assured me he intended to get that done in a couple of days when he got a benefit check at the end of the month. Unfortunately, Ron had lost track of the date and didn’t realize that it was only the 20th of the month.
So, to make a long story only slightly shorter, after I brought Ron a bottle of water for him and the kitten, I asked Ron if he would let me find a new home for the kitten. At first he was extremely reluctant to let go of the kitten but over the course of the hour I spent with Ron he softened his stance and finally agreed to let me take the kitten when I got out of jury duty that evening. I told Ron that I knew he was a man of honor and that if we shook on the deal I knew he’d be waiting for me at 5 when I returned. We shook and when I exited the Court House that evening, I sprinted over to Ron – who had moved to a different corner – to take delivery of the kitten. When I asked how we were going to get the kitten untied from his rather elaborate tether, Ron whipped out a huge fishing knife – who knows where he had that hidden! – and quickly cut the strings to free the kitten. As Ron handed the kitten over, he pointed at the chicken, who was now perched on Ron’s shoulder, and said: “Could you help me find a home for this Bitch? All she does is complain!” After I picked myself up from the floor, handed Ron a token of my appreciation and took delivery of the kitten, I assured Ron that I would look into re-homing options for the chicken.
As the kitten and I settled into my car for the trip home I christened him “Jury Duty Kitten” or “Jaydi” (J.D. for Jury Duty, found at the courthouse by a J.D. – that would be me – get it?). After going through a number of trial names, including Jaydi, Dabi and others, his eventual adoptive mama would rename him “Pizootz” but that doesn’t happen until Part III of the story so first tune in next week for Part II, How to train your dragon…I mean kitten, to walk on a leash.
In the meantime, here is Pizootz devouring his first meal after we got home from jury duty.
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